VARIOUS ARTISTS  Beauty. Darkness. Chaos.  CD   (Ars Magna)   9.98

An excellent three-way split that teams up two of my favorite underground black metal bands and a third that I'm discovering here for the first time. The lineup of Chaos Moon, Frostmoon Eclipse and Benighted In Sodom is the same as a US tour that the three bands recently undertook, and Ars Magna compiled three to four tracks from each band for this disc that was originally meant to come out for the tour. It ended up getting delayed by one of their manufacturers and didnt come out until after the tour, but it's a killer disc regardless, and more than likely if you caught this tour, yer going to want to pick this up.

Tennessee (oops, not Mexican as I had erroneously written before!)black metallers Chaos Moon are back with three new exclusive tracks, and it's more of their awesome, warped ambient black metal that I fel in love with on their last full length for Ars Magna. Each song drifts dreamlike through blazing black metal filled with their trademark slippery riffage and stuttering blastbeats and psychotic howls, moving in and out of discordant doomic dirge and fields of almost silent ambience and droning cosmic drone. And there is also plenty of those weird, almost poppy melodies that distinguish Chaos Moon's sound, as if yer hearing some sunny indie rock band buried way down underneath the ferocious occult-and-death obsessed black blast.

Frostmoon Eclipse are one of my favorite Italian black metal bands, and here they give us one exclusive new track and three of the songs off of their now out-of-print I Am Providence 3" CD in the H.P. Lovecraft tribute series that God Is Myth released a while back. I never got a chance to get that disc, so it's cool to have those tracks included here, especially since they fucking rage. All four tracks follow in the Frostmoon style of blazing old school Norwegian black metal mixed with moody, shadowy gloom-rock. Their songs are fierce and buzzing assaults of blastbeat ridden blackness a la Emperor that suddenly shift into lengthy passages of brooding acoustic strum and oddly catchy hooks.

I had never heard the third band Benighted In Sodom before this came in, but their four tracks (which are all exclusive to this disc) have me totally sold. A one-man black metal outfit from Florida of all places, Benighted In Sodom go for a terminally negative, dismal black metal sound, guitars layered into dense clouds of dissonant chords and painfully beautiful harmonies, drums pounding out mostly slow hypnotic dirges and occasionally unleashing a rain of blastbeats. These songs are intensely bleak and hypnotic experiences, and remind me a bit of the newer Xasthur material up to the point where Benighted In Sodom brinds out the thick, droning synthesizers and blankets the music in heavy waves of dark kosmiche drift. This is one of the bleakest black metal bands that I've been turned on to lately, utterly cloaked in dread and despair and an infinite aching beauty.

The disc comes with an eight page booklet of lyrics and track information for all three bands; highly recommended for anyone looking for more excellent contempo black metal weirdness.

Track Samples:
Sample : VARIOUS ARTISTS-Beauty. Darkness. Chaos.
Sample : VARIOUS ARTISTS-Beauty. Darkness. Chaos.
Sample : VARIOUS ARTISTS-Beauty. Darkness. Chaos.